I would like to introduce myself, my name is Megan-Amy Rodgers and I am Duncan and Louise Rodgers 13 year old daughter. I am often asked about growing up in the African bush so this is my story of my life at Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve.
I was born at Savanna on the 18th of September 1996 and I spent my first 18 months there. We then moved to Leopard Hills in March 1998.
My life in the bush is very blessed and I never take anything for granted, I am not very good in the city, but hopefully I can tell you which bird “that” is.
Eight years ago the owners of Leopard Hills kindly opened a school here at the lodge. All my schooling has taken place here, the school now has 4 children in it, I being the oldest, and Promise who is almost 13 and has been with us 9 years, and Kiara my sister is 10 and Storm who is also 10. So, we have an all girl’s school! Our wonderful teacher Marlise has been teaching us for just over a year, she makes learning fun and gives us all individual attention.
My home is a lovely house on the property and along with my Dad, Mum and Kiara we also have 3 dogs. Jessie our staffie is almost 9, Mister Bojangles our blond Labrador is 3 and Ginger Rodgers another Labrador is just over a year. Having dogs in the bush takes a lot of watching, they cannot be on their own outside at all, leopards and lions would attack them, even baboons and warthogs are a real danger to dogs, all this AND of course the snakes! Can you believe we even have our own dog trainer! Dear friends of ours, Perdita and Rolf are very regular guests who also happen to be dog trainers, they are from Germany and often tell us we “have Vunderful dogs” Thanks to you both for your time and energy with our 4 legged friends.
As children growing up in the bush we have also had to be vigilant of animals and snakes, our daily dangers are very different to those of children growing up in the city, everyone has dangers in life; ours are just a bit different to others!
On any day we can have elephants, lions or any type of animal outside our veranda at home, we have been sitting on at our dining room table doing homework and had a leopard lying on the pool loungers on the veranda just a few feet away from us, thankfully the doors were closed!. We have even had a Leopard sitting on our roof!!
Many a time we have had elephants eating our garden, when they eat my Mum’s spinach it makes her really mad! The baboons also love her marrow, thankfully they don‘t eat herbs.
I have been fortunate enough to meet many special guests here who have become great friends of ours over the years. Trevor and Theresa who we have been fortunate enough to be able to have an amazing trip to lake Kariba with 18 months ago, fishing and having fun, can‘t wait we are all going again in a months’ time with Van and Marius to Upper Zambezi, can‘t wait!, Tom and Enid, Alan and Ruth, and countless others. I have also made some very special from the amazing staff here, some I have known for 12 years, including Sophie who has worked in our house with us since before I could even walk!
Kiara and I have helped over the years to raise money for the orphanage Leopard Hills supports, we spent many many hours beading and making jewellery to sell in the shop, with all our endeavours we managed between us to raise R6000.00. We also give all our toys that we have grown out of to the children as well; I hope this has helped them over the years.
I am also so lucky that my Nana gets to visit us about twice a year from England and other family members, what a privilege to be able to show them where I live; I just wish they could be here more often.
I often get to go on game drives or out with friends for an afternoon, it doesn‘t matter whether I see animals, just being in the bush is special enough, but I have to say I have not even been out and not seen something, even a beautiful sunset or clear stars with a full moon is spectacular, especially as we have no light pollution here.
We have been very fortunate in the past to have been able to go out with the Rangers and experience such things as Rhino darting, when they are doing research on the animals, it is so amazing to able to see this animals up close and be able to touch them. I don‘t think many School children can say this forms part of their school projects. Once we even witnessed the darting of a Male Cheetah that had been injured, it recovered fully, and we still see it in the bush today.
Picture Rhino darting. Cheetah darting.
Once Marius even had to rescue a Buffalo Calf that had been left behind when the herd was attacked by a Pride of Lions, again it was a happy ending, and it was successfully reintroduced into the herd a day later, it was so special to see it reunited with its mother.
Being able to lie in bed at night and hear the lions roar, the hyenas cackle or the nightjars singing is incredible; falling asleep in the city is not easy without these sounds.
I am often asked “what is my favourite animal” how do I answer that? They are all special from the magnificent elephants that walk so quietly through the bush you can hardly hear them, the Lion that looks right through you as if you are not there, and the buffalo that always looks at you like you owe it money! But I also love the shy bushbuck’s that graze outside our house every day, the monkeys that are always on the lookout for something to eat, the warthogs on their knees mowing the lawns, the swallows that are nesting under the eaves of our roof every year they return to the same nests and just upgrade them. Every possible part of the bush is God’s home and I am extremely blessed and privileged to be able to call this place my home and able to share it with everyone that comes here.
Do I miss the city and a big school? I don‘t know what they are, so how can I miss them! It is nice to go shopping and eat pizzas, but I would rather have what I have right here at home.
Imagine one day being able to tell my children where I grew up, I just hope these wilderness areas are still here for the animals to still roam freely in. That is something only man can decide and I hope he treats it with respect as I do.